A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to meet Bobby “G,” Beam’s Master Mixologist, and we talked about whiskey and cigar pairings briefly. If you’d like, you can hear that interview on the podcast.
Bobby suggested that Baker’s Bourbon is a great cigar pairing, as the aging for Baker’s puts their barrels higher up in Beam’s rickhouses, creating a rich, bitter and quite spicy bourbon. Baker’s is a 7-year-old, 107 proof bourbon, too, bold enough to pair with even the boldest cigar as well.
Baker’s is shockingly smooth and easy to drink for being 107 proof. I’ve tried it with a bold cigar (Gurkha Red Witch) and a mild cigar (Arturo Fuente Dominican Seconds), and really enjoyed the interplay Baker’s had with both. The Red Witch is flavorful and Gurkhas tend to have lots of smoke output, so it was richness that was the stand-out in this pairing. The Fuente was a milder and earthier smoke, highlighting Baker’s nutmeg flavors. Alone as a nightcap, Baker’s spiciness is exceedingly clear: pepper and nutmeg are the standout flavors.
Baker’s is definitely a cigar smoker’s bourbon and those who prefer their whiskies spicy, like rye drinkers or even Four Roses drinkers, may want to give this bourbon a shot as well.
Vacation = Greg’s a lobster. We stare at the Club 33 door. Stay at The Whitney for TOTC! We taste (Christian Brothers) Sacred Bond Brandy. Greg thinks he remembers what “bottled in bond” means. We make a Spymaster cocktail with Reyka Vodka. Greg mentions Robert Hess’s channel on Small Screen Network. Kuhn Rikon knives. Lisa considers making a list of every cocktail at Tales of the Cocktail…
No friends this week…but 2 cocktails! We make a Martini. Greg persecutes Lisa’s drinkmaking skills…as always. Americans and cocktails. We’re going to Tales of the Cocktail! We make a new cocktail: Brandy & Root.
The Hudson line of whiskeys are distilled by Tuthilltown Spirits in the Hudson River Valley in New York. Every whiskey they create comes in a half-sized bottle that usually retails for the price of many full-sized craft whiskies. Hudson Four Grain Bourbon retails for about $45.
The 4 grains that go into the mash for this whiskey are corn, rye, wheat and malted barley – all common components of a bourbon, though usually a combination of only 3 of those 4. Hudson uniquely uses very small casks for their whiskeys, I believe maxing out at 14 gallon barrels. This means that Hudson whiskeys receive more barrel exposure than whiskeys in the “standard” bourbon barrel size of 200 liters (53 gallons), and this sets their flavor profile apart from many large-scale whiskies.
Hudson’s Four Grain ends up pretty complex, in fact, complex to the point of being inaccessible to some. HFGB is spicy, earthy, wet and sweet, which are reflections of each of the grains in the mash and the smaller barrels, too. We tried it on the podcast and I offered it to some whiskey-drinking friends, and the feedback went like this: whiskey drinkers/lovers really liked Hudson Four Grain Bourbon. Those who prefer a milder liquor found HFGB to be an overwhelming tasting experience.
So, a bourbon that whiskey lovers love? Seems a wise choice. I made a single cocktail with my bottle of HFGB – by the way, those little bottles go fast – a Manhattan. It was good, but I’d recommend this be reserved strictly as a sipper on ice (or maybe a touch of clean water). Its complexities are really quite a bit to savor, so sipping Husdon Four Grain on its own is my preferred way to drink it.
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I’m made mention in the past my love for Kuhn Rikon paring knives in my home bar. We have several of these in the kitchen and use them all day for everything, from butter, to everyday chopping, to cocktail citrus prep. For about $10 per knife, we use these until we wear them out and feel like they’re a great value for their quality and functionality. See photo #3 below for a true representation of my Colori addiction.
These knives are not only extremely sharp, they are also coated with a nonstick coating (which makes them extra-useful for cutting butter and softer cheeses), and they each come with a plastic sleeve for storage.
Kuhn Rikon has now released a brand-new version of their popular Coloriseries of knives, the Colori+and I reached out to the company to try some. The differences between Colori and Colori+ are shown above, with the original knives on the left and the newer model on the right. The new Coloris have:
a slightly different blade shape
an improved handle with an upgraded shape, textured material and a stamped “+” logo
a thinner, less rigid blade sleeve (see the photo below to compare)
darker knife colors, at least for now, which seem to be less pastel overall
The Colori line is widely available at many retailers nationally, including Amazon. Because the Colori+ knives are relatively new, I’ve only seen them sold on Kuhn Rikon’s website so far. At the same retail price of the previous iteration ($10 a knife), I prefer the improved + line, primarily because of the improved handle, which feels much better in my hand.
Greg’s book is coming! Larry & Susie get the first copy. Kevin is back and Nickelette is still pregnant. We taste Bayou Rum. We mention San Antonio Cocktail Conference. Susie sells the book: “honey, we need more vodka!” We make a custom cocktail with Art in the Age Black Trumpet Blueberry Cordial: the Blueblood.
I must confess that Basil Hayden’s has had me a bit dumbfounded since I first broke the seal on this bottle. This is my first time sipping Hayden’s, and so I drank it the way I like to drink lots of my bourbons: with a lot of ice.
I was disappointed. I found it to be watery and extremely mild on my initial tasting of it. Instead of writing off Hayden’s as a bourbon that I don’t like, I began to research it to see how I might be approaching this bourbon wrong.
I had the incredible chance to attend New Mexico Cocktails and Culture this past weekend, and one of the speakers was Beam’s Master Mixologist Bobby G. Basil Hayden’s is a Beam product, so I asked him about it. Bobby told me two things that were helpful: First, Basil Hayden’s is a very mild bourbon, so it should be sipped neat and not on the rocks. Second, it’s the Beam bourbon that has tested to be the most popular with women.
From there, I consulted my favorite bourbon book: Bourbon Curious by Fred Minnick. There is a summary of Basil Hayden’s overall: founded in 1992, owner by Beam Suntory, and named after a famous Kentuckian. But then, a little earlier in the book, under Tricks to Getting Used to Bourbon, I read: “My favorite starter bourbon is Basil Hayden’s, because it’s 80 proof and carries some nuances.”
There you go. Basil Hayden’s is a mild, approachable starter bourbon with notes of citrus (especially orange) and mild tea with basically no spice. Enjoying it neat or in a 3:1 Manhattan is a great way to ease someone into the world of bourbon.